ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — With so many chiming in on why the Buffalo Bills offense has been so sluggish of late, and blame being placed on everything and everyone from jet lag to coordinator Ken Dorsey, quarterback Josh Allen came up with a reason of his own on Tuesday.
It just might be him.
Revealing he made the conscious decision last month to keep his emotions in check — “low positive,” the quarterback called it — following a season-opening dud and Week 2 domination, Allen wondered whether he’s reined himself in too much.
“I’ve been trying to find a zone where I get myself into throughout the game to try to stay as low as possible, because I feel like I perform better that way,” Allen said.
“If I could limit myself and my energy and my heart rate, I felt like I could maybe think a little bit more,” he added. “But, who knows, maybe I need to think a little bit less and play football.”
While Allen has no intention of returning to his reckless, defender-hurdling, squeezing passes into double coverage old ways, the quarterback thinks a reset might be in order.
“Maybe I’ve got to be more upbeat and be a voice a little bit more loud — let my emotions show a little more,” he said as Buffalo (4-3) faces a short week in preparing to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) on Thursday night.
Buffalo is in a desperate need of a spark, particularly involving a slow-starting offense that's combined to score 10 points in the first half in its past three outings, capped by a 29-25 loss at New England.
The Bills are 1-2 over that span — rounded out by a 25-20 loss to Jacksonville at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and a 14-9 win against the New York Giants — and facing midseason questions as to whether the window of opportunity is closing on the three-time defending AFC East champions.
What’s befuddling is how the offensive slump immediately followed a three-game winning streak in which the Bills outscored their opponents by a combined margin of a 123-33 and capped by a 48-20 rout of division rival Miami.
Coach Sean McDermott placed the blame on everyone, including himself, by saying the team as a whole needs to return to dictating rather than reacting to what happens during a game.
Dorsey, facing intensifying scrutiny, dismissed a question as to whether his offense was facing a crisis. And he declined offering insight on what’s gone wrong and what steps he might take to improve its production, whether it’s switching tempos to keep defenses off balance or having Allen attack the middle of the field more often.
In the first half of Buffalo’s past two games, Allen has attempted just six passes over the middle, four of them completions, including a touchdown negated by a penalty, with one incompletion and an interception.
Receiver Stefon Diggs said one way to build momentum is enjoying some success on opening drives.
“Us in a rhythm is scary, you know what I’m saying? Once we get going, we get going," Diggs said. "We just got to get going.”
The Bills’ starts have been going nowhere. Over its past three games, Buffalo’s first drives have combined for 11 yards on seven plays, and ended with two punts and a first-snap interception last weekend.
Buffalo’s been much better in rallying to score a combined 42 points in its past three fourth quarters. But it’s only resulted in one win, which came down to Buffalo’s defense stopping the Giants at the 1 on an untimed down.
The early game struggles have placed a strain on an injury-depleted defense that’s down three starters, and still easing back in edge rusher Von Miller. Frustration also is setting in among the offensive players, which carries over into ensuing possessions.
“It’s frustrating when you can’t score. So the fun’s not there when you’re not doing what you work all week to do,” receiver Gabe Davis said. “We just need to keep it simple and start moving the ball. If we just do what we know what we can do, there ain’t no ceiling.”
The return of “Fun-Time” QB might help, too.
“Maybe. Maybe. I have a lot of fun playing this game,” Allen said, before emphasizing a need to find the right balance. “It’s a thin line. But again, this team they look to the captains. They look to the quarterback. ... I’ve got to do more. That’s what I plan on doing.”
NOTES: The Bills restructured LT Dion Dawkins’ contract to free up close to $4 million in salary cap space. The move was necessitated because Buffalo had nearly run out of cap room to sign players and fill injury-depleted spots on its active roster. ... TE Dalton Knox is the latest player to go down. He's sidelined indefinitely by a wrist injury and was scheduled to have surgery on Tuesday.
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